In the world of DevOps, the names Chef and Puppet have been synonymous with systems and configuration management in the cloud. But now it is time to make room for a third synonym, Salt. Salt, short for SaltStack, was started in the basement of Founder and CTO Tom Hatch. Tom had been building and administering clouds for a while and was frustrated with some of the complexities and performance issues of the existing tools that he was working with. Tom set out to create a framework that could get real-time information about infrastructure and communicate to servers faster than anything out there. Writing in Python, Tom built a framework that executes many times faster than the competition. In fact one client reported that moving to Salt took the previous deployment process of 18,000 nodes from 15 minutes down to 5 seconds.
There are a number of factors contributing to the speed of Salt:
- Built-in asynchronous queuing file server
- High degree of parallelism
- Extremely efficient compiler
- Simplistic design
- Ability to batch packages together
SaltStack is becoming very popular as of late, but don’t take my word for it. According to GitHub, SaltStack is now one of the top 10 open source projects for attracting contributors, right behind Open Stack. A quick look on Ohloh.net shows that the number of contributors to Salt is rapidly increasing while Chef and Puppet contributions are fairly static. In fact, the two-year-old SaltStack now has twice the number of active contributors over the last twelve months compared to Chef and Puppet.
SaltStack won the Structure 2013 Launchpad Award in San Francisco last week. Companies like LinkedIn, HP, Comcast, and Rackspace have embraced Salt. LinkedIn has been contributing frequently to the open source project, which in my mind validates its relevance. Salt is cloud- and operating-system-agnostic, meaning it can be used in public, private, and hybrid clouds and on Linux, Solaris, BSD, Mac, and Windows operating systems.
SaltStack recently released its enterprise version, which offers more features, support, and training for an annual subscription fee. They are releasing their next version later this summer. SaltStack is also hosting the Great Salt Sprint, which is a hackathon running at multiple locations simultaneously on July 27 with the goal of building more support for OpenStack.
For more information on SaltStack:
- View their product page here
- See the Structure 2013 winning presentation on slideshare
- Sign up for the Great Salt Sprint here
- See comparisons on Ohloh of Salt, Chef, Puppet here